I wish I was skinny enough for him to fling me around like a dainty ragdoll, with his protective hands grasping my slight body as mine get lost in his hair…
We chased the tide, running to our island haven as the salty waves caressed our feet and the mud of the ocean floor squelched between our toes. The horizon was a blur of colour; nature’s own filter blending the oranges, reds and navy blues into a collage engulfing our island. When the tide swallowed the last of the pathway to the mainland, we looked out upon the vast expanse of swirling waves all around us, listening to them break the silence of dusk as they lapped rhythmically against the rocks.
Out in the clear country air, we lay on our backs with cans of beer and followed the shooting stars across the sky, mesmerised by the tiny flickers of long ago illuminating the night sky. We lay at peace with ourselves and the world, wondering idly: what is life? Why do we worry about so many trivial things when we know barely anything about who we are, and who we are to become?
There is something so liberating about the ocean. It is full of secrets from years ago, being whispered from far within its murky depths. It houses another world of life and death, survival and instinct, hidden beneath its gently undulating surface twinkling in the twilight. It is easy to become a slave to the inner city beat, lost in a suffocating world of work and people and unhealthy routine. Sometimes it helps to relinquish control, and lose yourself to the quiet, humble magnitude of the Earth around you, and beyond into the unknown.
I lost a close friend recently. It was a horrible situation: we both embarrassed each other in front of a lot of people by saying and doing things which I know our hearts weren’t really in. We were drunk. I overreacted and said a lot of things I didn’t mean and can never take back. I screamed; he ran.
I saw him on my way to work this morning. He must have missed his bus. I’d accepted that we weren’t speaking when things were still fresh and raw, but I’d never really considered that our friendship is probably gone forever. That hit me today at 9:30am, when I watched one of the few people I’d once considered a close friend walk five metres in front of me, as less than an acquaintance. I didn’t shout his name; I didn’t run to catch him up. I don’t know if he saw me but he never caught my eye when I passed his bus stop and he never called my name as I walked on by.
I won’t lie. We had a bit of a history and we’d had to work through a lot of issues to become close. That doesn’t make it any less painful that two hours of stupidity – which both of us can barely remember due to being blind drunk – have managed to destroy every thoughtful text, tight hug and shared joke we’ve ever had.
He thinks I’m still in love with him. I’m not. Why did I convince myself that I was that night? I wish I knew. Some sort of emotional trigger I guess. I’ve been heartbroken before, but this is different. I just miss my friend. Even though I know he’s given me one too many chances to not fuck up, this whole scenario was his fault too. He’s cut me from his life, and that’s the way it is.
I’ll miss you buddy.
I’ll seduce you with my words.
I’ll wrap them around you until you feel their meaning like I do;
Until the dots of my i’s pierce your thoughts
And you become lost in the curve of my O’s.
I’ll tear you apart with my prose.
For in writing I can cut out the lethal sentences I never meant to say;
I can place every word
So you’re left with the bittersweet taste of my truth on your tongue
As you read the words I wrote for you.
It’s all I have.
Life hypnotises me with its sights and scents and sounds
Its promise of thrill
The places left unexplored;
The rules I’ve yet to disregard.
I lose myself sometimes.
I hear somebody I do not know
Speaking through my body and whispering hatred into my mind.
I’ll seduce you with my words.
Will you let me explain my fucked-up brain
Before it tries in desperation to explain itself through anger and pain?
Your world is a product of your brain. Sensory receptors in your skin and eyes send signals to your upper brain where the somatosensory and visual cortex decide involuntarily what you shall feel and see. You cannot choose not to see something when light rays enter your eyes and your cone cells convert the information into action potentials. Everything you’ve ever known is an effect which happened inside your head. How do you know it really happened? You can fit the capacity of the entire universe inside your brain, because for you, that is the only place it can possibly exist. Memory and feeling are only learned responses and ion gradients and neurotransmitters. The world is your story, and every discovery, success, and triumph is never anything but your very own.
I’m sorry I’m not good enough.
I’m sorry I was never good enough for you. I’m sorry I binged away your perfect body to numb the pain of being ‘fat and useless.’
I’m sorry I was so unreliable. I did everything you told me not to; I’m sorry I never took your advice.
I’m sorry I wasted your talents and laughed at your faults.
I’m sorry I ruined your friendships and stood in the way of your relationships.
I’m sorry for haunting you in the dead of night.
I’m sorry for cutting you open until you sobbed and bled into your pillow.
I’m sorry for destroying your body with awful substances.
I’m sorry for kicking you in the stomach every time you looked in the mirror.
I’m sorry for allowing your memories to kill you.
I’m sorry for hurting the people you love.
I’m sorry for hurting you.
I’m sorry I’m not good enough.
Summer is always perceived to be the ‘happy’ season. It’s something to do with the amount of melatonin produced by the pineal gland in the brain, which changes corresponding to light levels and subsequently affects moods. Not to mention the blazing warmth of the sun; the delicate floral scent carried on a gentle breeze, and the carefree holiday atmosphere.
More often than not, these days, I soak it up. I love to walk down my street during those long, long days hearing the sizzle of barbecues; the pop as another bottle of cider is opened; the laughter of people who’ve left their worries captured in the darker days of spring. Sometimes, though, the stillness stifles me. Where do you go when the world seems to come to a halt around you? The lazy calmness weighs down on my chest as though I’m deep underwater, and the happy cider-drinking barbecuers are sailing on the surface.
It was that one summer. That summer, five years ago when I was fifteen. Over the course of a year, I’d lost a boyfriend, several close friends, my health, happiness, and most of myself to anorexia. We lived in a big, cosy house on the corner of a quiet street. I was relieved the summer had finally arrived because it signified the end of my GCSE’s, and most importantly, the warmer weather meant that my insides weren’t pierced with icy coldness through every layer of clothing as soon as I left the comfort of an electric heater. Although I was still a slave to control and exercise, I remember vividly how I’d just started to be able to eat over 1000 calories a day without screaming in anger.
Throughout May, I was doing fine. Just fine, the doctor said. Not gaining, but maintaining at least. That all changed when June arrived and summer truly began, and my Dad lost his grip on life. He’s a man with a severe nervous disorder and a horrific alcohol problem, and at the time he was in a teaching job which was far too stressful for him to handle. I remember one day, at the end of June, I’d woken up late morning and I’d meandered down the stairs to make my breakfast: a sachet of golden syrup instant porridge made with half milk, half water. I had a technique of watering down the milk when pretending to make tea so that my mother never noticed. I liked to sustain the façade of quick progress when it came to my recovery (try as she might, my Mam could never quite understand why I wouldn’t just sit and eat a whole packet of fig rolls if I needed to gain weight.)
So anyway, I was watching the timer on the microwave as it zapped my oats into a watery gruel. As I was waiting, I heard a crash in the back garden. I ran through the conservatory onto the patio to see my Dad crippled on the floor, bright red, bruised and bleeding, lying there unconscious with the bike he’d just fallen off on top of him. My mother came running and tried to drag him into a chair. Disgustingly drunk, he was unable to form a coherent sentence as he communicated his aggression through his violent expression. He’d been cycling around the streets in pursuit of more alcohol, too inebriated to stay upright for longer than a minute.
We left him to it, and as soon as he’d sobered up enough to move he stood and staggered through the house, demanding money for more booze, slamming doors, wrestling my mother’s purse from her as he shouted insults into her crying face. After I’d torn him away from her, I couldn’t control my anger. The thick, heavy summer air smothered me until I cracked and hit him, wanting him to feel my pain, hating him for the person he’d turned me into. Wanting to smash up that stupid, fat red face until it resembled the shattered remains of my carefree childhood. Useless, pathetic prick pretending to be some sort of father as I slowly tortured myself trying to grasp some of the control which he himself had physically stolen from me.
My mother couldn’t handle it. She had some sort of breakdown which the rest of the family didn’t understand – they were in denial about the extent of my Dad’s problem and they didn’t know how to deal with it. The picking-her-up-off-the-floor bit was my responsibility at a time when I needed her be the one doing that for me. She decided we needed to leave that house and the nightmarish memories it held behind. We rented a flat after we’d sold it – sold our beautiful house with the big garden and the towering trees. The flat which was about an eighth of the size. Instead of leaving our problems behind, we concentrated the tension of my eating disorder and my Dad’s violent alcoholism into a small space.
The hatred I felt for him was accentuated and I spent weeks of that summer screaming on the floor in a series of violent tantrums worthy of a five-year old. Every time he imitated me in a mocking, babyish voice, every time he lashed out at me in pursuit of the booze or money I would hide from him, I tried to hold it together, but I couldn’t. I was too weak. I broke my mother, my poor mother who didn’t know what to do with either of us. My sweet mother who couldn’t decide whether to shout at me for losing it, hold me, or leave me on the floor and run out of the flat, crying.
Sometimes, when I’m walking alone in the summer and I hear the sizzle of meat on a barbecue, or the chatty buzz of a group of students basking in the sun, I feel as though I’m listening through a pair of old, fuzzy headphones. Some deeper part of me still exists, and will always exist, in that awful summer of 2009. The summer which hit me like a bullet-train: me, the tame rabbit who’d not yet learned to run from danger, standing in the train tracks wearing a startled expression on my pale, bony face.
And as the hours rolled into days and the days blurred into years, we became blind to the sunset on the horizon and the glimmer as Earth winked its eye far out to sea. We began to dread the darkness of night when we’d forgotten how the stars would whisper their secrets into the blackness as the moon slowly slid down the sky. As our senses numbed we could no longer close our eyes and lose ourselves in the fresh scent of summer, nor could we hear the purity in the call of a bird or the roar of a lion, calling to its pride as it bounds over African planes. We became brutal; dominated by fear and a hunger for power.
We blindly followed rules, living a life of routine and frustration at the questions we couldn’t answer. Maybe, someday, we’ll realise that the answers were there all along, but we were asking the wrong questions.
Sometimes, I would wipe away his tears with the pads of my thumbs until the stream ran dry. I’d pull him tightly to my chest so I could share the burden of his pounding heart, the rhythmic bass behind the dry staccato of his sobs. I used to bury my hands in the spiky thickness of his hair, feeling the warmth of his head and coming as close as I could to suffocating the beast which existed inside his brain. I would press my lips against his beautiful imperfections; reading the story of his emotion with the soft, sensitive pads of my mouth. He would squeeze me as though he was standing at the edge of a cliff and I was the last solid thing in his world to which he could reach out to stop himself from falling.
The more I read about it, the more I both hate yet understand it. The drunken ramblings of wanting to die; the fantasies of flinging my poor, helpless body from the top of the highest building on Princes Street.
…”The trigger (or “final straw”) is often a threat of separation, rejection or disappointment in life. This adds to feelings of overwhelming tension, isolation, self-hatred, and apprehension about being unable to control one’s own emotions. The increasing anxiety culminates in a frightening sense of unreality and emptiness that ultimately produces an emotional numbness or depersonalization. Self-injury is a primitive means for combating the emotional numbness.”…
What does a person do when their life becomes a series of ‘bad patches’? I can’t think of any excuse to feel the way that I do. All I know is that sometimes I lie awake for hours, clutching at my bedsheets until my knuckles turn white with desperation to escape my mind; to exchange the torment with calmness for even just a short period of time.
Sometimes I concentrate all the pain of rejection into one little chamber of my mind and it hurts so badly I can almost feel it burning my skull. If it were physical pain I could deal with it – I could ask for help without pissing off my friends and the NHS. I would be understood, and it would heal.
I wish someone would take the time to try to understand, to research the symptoms of my diagnosis and the reasons behind them then turn to me and say “you know, Kat, it sucks and I don’t get it but I am here for you.” I hide away when things are bad and exist as an awkwardly manic, erratic, binge-fuelled freak when the misery subsides. The imbalance of a pitiful desperation for attention and a desire for intense control brings with it so much embarrassment, anxiety and self-loathing.
Is peace attainable for a mind like mine? Or am I confined to this torture for the rest of my life?